One Jadeja missing, another steps up

Despite its reputation of being a sort of purgatory for spinners in particular, the pitch at Khanderi had begun taking turn by the fourth afternoon. But even that was little solace for Madhya Pradesh's Udit Birla as he stood dumbfounded having been clean-bowled. His astonishment was understandable. After all it's not everyday that a left-arm spinner manages to pitch a ball on the off-stump and turns it through a right-handed batsman's defenses to hit leg-stump. Or bowl a doosra for that matter.

What was more incredible was that the bowler was a youngster in his maiden outing for his state's senior team. Birla, however, wasn't the only MP batsman who fell victim to 22-year-old Dharmendersinh Jadeja's tantalizing spell on Tuesday at Khanderi, as the debutant spun Saurashtra to a dramatic 227-run win and a place in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals. Jadeja finished with figures of 6/51 as MP were humbled for 183, chasing an improbable 411 for victory.

The farmer's son from Rajkot in fact wasn't even aware that he would be playing in his team's all-important final league clash till the eve of the match. And he insists on having been a bundle of nerves as he took the field alongside the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shitanshu Kotak.

Till two weeks ago, after all, Jadeja was busy spinning Saurashtra's U-25 team to victories in the CK Nayudu Trophy, where he finished as the second highest wicket-taker. The Birla wicket—one that he credits to spin colleague Kamlesh Makvana who he claims taught him to bowl the doosra—was coined as the moment of the match by his teammates. It was Naman Ojha's scalp in his first over earlier the day though that Jadeja believes was the turning-point. While Jalaj Saxena and Rameez Khan did show a lot of resolve in their 83-run stand, Jadeja struck again with the latter's wicket before running through the rest of the MP batting line-up.

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